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Culinary Connections

Build professional meal preparation and home cooking skills using fresh, healthy ingredients. Learn to grow edibles in our garden and enhance physical wellness.

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Urban Explorers

Learn about nature and culture, visit parks and museums, and develop job and life skills. Share your knowledge and express yourself through art, communication, and technology projects.

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Summer Links

Join us for a summer of cooking, growing, and learning! Practice people skills, express yourself through art and dance, and prepare food for events and the farmers market.

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Highlights of the Week: September 12-16

Urban Explorers
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  • Students wrote their resumes using the brainstorming maps they made last week.
  • We discussed how genetics relates to diversity and discrimination, and then learned about GMOs.
  • The class learned about the impacts of over-fishing on the world’s fish population.
  • We played a probability game to learn about the risks of an unhealthy diet.
  • The class discussed differences between standard and alternative food production methods, like treatment of animals, use of pesticides, and farmers’ and farm workers’ livelihoods.
  • Students made creative phone charging stations to keep their phones in during class so they won’t be a distraction.
 Culinary Foundations
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  • In the garden, students learned about permaculture, plant guilds, and companion planting.
  • We planted 12 different varieties of vegetable seeds in labeled pots.
  • Students assisted with food preparation for the Church Night In dinner on Wednesday.
  • We made brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and Rice Krispie treats, portioned them into bags, and sold them at our first bake sale of the year.  Proceeds benefit our garden.
  • Students made tacos, learning how to pull chicken, make fresh salsa, and dice tomatoes, peppers, and onions.

Highlights of the Week: September 6-9

Culinary Foundations

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  • The class discussed the different types of cooking methods.
  • Students practiced the creaming method by baking gluten-free chocolate cupcakes and also learned how to pipe frosting.
  • We smelled different herbs and spices and learned all about their pairings with various ingredients.
  • Students learned the moist cooking method called braising, preparing braised red cabbage.
  • The class discussed the steps to start a garden, including observation of conditions, envisioning the type of garden, and the preparation for execution.
  • Students each drew out their own plans for our garden space.
Urban Explorers

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  • We learned new words in sign language by practicing the sign language dance “I Love Myself”.
  • The class discussed factory farming and how our meat does not look like the animals it comes from.
  • Guest speakers Lynnette Chiverton and Annetta Garcia from the administrative offices of Special Transportation Service came to talk to us about STS policies and answer questions about the service.
  • Students did a brainstorming activity in preparation for writing their resumes, creating maps of their educational and work experience by tea-staining paper and following a series of steps to organize images of their experiences.

Highlights of the Week: August 29 – September 2

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Urban Explorers
  • The class worked together to draw up classroom rules for the session.
  • We talked about diversity and discrimination, and students shared things that make them unique.
  • Students did an art project about what makes them unique.
  • We learned about this history of agriculture and how production methods and the treatment of animals have changed over time

Culinary Foundations
  • The class started out the session with an overview of safety and sanitation, as well as cooking terminology.
  • We learned our first knife cut, called the batonnet, and to practice it we peeled and cut potatoes and made delicious french fries.
  • Students learned the julienne cut and practiced it on vegetables.
  • We made mango muffins from scratch, practicing measurement and being organized in the kitchen.

August 8-12 Highlights of the Week

  • The class discussed diversity, prejudice, discrimination, and hate speech.  Students did an activity to explore the meaning of privilege.
  • We played a game to review telling time on an analog clock.

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  • Students developed healthy menus for their food truck project.
  • In videography this week, students filmed the videoblogs they have been preparing.
  • Students practiced fine motor skills by modeling the steps involved in food production with paper chains.
  • Psychologist Janice Hynes worked with students on talking about emotions and expressing themselves through dance.

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July 25-29 Highlights of the Week

  • This week we learned about hunger and sustainability.  The class discussed hunger in the US and around the world, how food gets from a farm to the table, and why some foods come from other countries.
  • Students worked on their videoblogs and discussed health issues related to food and water.
  • Following up on last week’s class, some students brought in videos about bullying.  We talked about the line between bullying and standing up for yourself or your friends.
  • Students practiced counting money and making sure they have the correct change, building their own mini food trucks as a setting for this activity.
  • Our field trip this week was to the Miami Science Barge where we had a tour, looked for plankton under a microscope, and learned about aquaculture.

WE 8.29.16 science barge IMG_0326

WE 8.29.16 science barge IMG_0324

July 18-22 Highlights of the week

  • We learned about the causes and effects of bullying and reflected on how our actions impact those around us.

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  • Program coordinator Fareena and her husband came in as guest speakers and led the class in a calming meditation.
  • Students planned a picnic to practice calculating the passage of time.
  • In the garden, we planted seeds including microgreens which will be ready in just a week.
  • We had a great field trip to Miami Culinary Institute!

07.20.16- MCI

Last Week at Nature Links: July 11-15

This week the leeks in our garden are just about ready to harvest.  We discussed the importance of pollinators such as bees, butterflies, flies, and ants.
 07.11.16 pollination lesson with last week's field trip garden photos
In life skills students discussed exercising discretion, role playing different situations such as talking to a boss, coworker, teacher, or STS dispatcher.
We took a field trip to Robert Is Here, where students learned about where the fruits sold there come from and how they are grown.  We also tasted foods at the farmers’ market and visited the petting zoo.
 07.15.16 at Robert is here